Kiman v. New Hampshire Dept. of Corrections

Decision Date20 August 2002
Docket NumberNo. 02-1099.,02-1099.
Citation301 F.3d 13
PartiesMatthew KIMAN, Plaintiff, Appellant, and United States, Intervenor, v. NEW HAMPSHIRE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants, Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit

Nancy S. Tierney for appellant.

Kevin K. Russell, Attorney, Department of Justice, with Ralph F. Boyd Jr., Assistant Attorney General, and Jessica Dunsay Silver and Seth M. Galanter, Attorneys, on brief, for intervenor United States.

Andrew B. Livernois, Assistant Attorney General, with whom Philip T. McLaughlin, Attorney General, was on brief for appellees.

Before TORRUELLA, LYNCH, and LIPEZ, Circuit Judges.

LYNCH, Circuit Judge.

This difficult case involves subtle questions of doctrine and important principles of sovereignty and federalism. It centers on allegations of a series of actions by corrections officers employed by the state of New Hampshire, which, if they occurred and were not adequately justified, violated the constitutional and statutory rights of Matthew Kiman. Kiman is a former prisoner of the state who suffers from the degenerative and terminal illness known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Kiman alleges that although the state knew of his disease, he was deprived of a cane to walk with and a chair to sit on in the shower, that his hands were improperly cuffed so as to cause him pain, and that he was made to stand in lines and climb stairs despite the illness that made it painful for him to do so. He also alleges that he was denied a toilet suitable for his use and that his guards did not give him the medications prescribed by his doctors. He says that because of such treatment, his health has deteriorated faster than it otherwise would have.

Kiman sought damages for his injuries under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12165 (1994), and under state law. The district court dismissed his suit against the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, reasoning that under Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 121 S.Ct. 955, 148 L.Ed.2d 866 (2001), Kiman could not sue the state. Kiman v. N.H. Dep't of Corr., No. 01-134-B, 2001 WL 1636431 (D.N.H. Dec. 19, 2001). After considering the complex legal issues presented, we hold that Title II of the ADA as applied to the facts of this case abrogates the sovereign immunity of New Hampshire, and we reverse and remand.

I.
A. Facts

When a district court dismisses a case on the pleadings because a state claims immunity under the Eleventh Amendment (or the broader principles that provision embodies) it must take the factual allegations of the plaintiff's complaint as true. Neo Gen Screening, Inc. v. New England Newborn Screening Program, 187 F.3d 24, 25 (1st Cir.1999). With this in mind, we describe the facts Kiman has alleged.

Matthew Kiman is a former inmate of the State of New Hampshire Department of Corrections who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. ALS causes certain nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to degenerate. Its victims gradually lose the ability to control their voluntary muscles, a process that causes the muscles to atrophy and that eventually leads to total paralysis and death. See generally Understanding ALS: What is ALS?, at http://www.alsa.org/als/whatis.cfm (last visited July 25, 2002). Kiman's symptoms began to show in April 1998 or earlier, but he was not diagnosed until January 1999. The record does not show the exact dates of his imprisonment, but he suffered from and was diagnosed with the disease during the imprisonment. His counsel stated at oral argument that he has been released from the Department of Corrections, so that injunctive relief is no longer of any use, and that since the events giving rise to this case his condition has continued to deteriorate.

Kiman says that the Department of Corrections denied a number of requested accommodations for his disability, which he says could easily have been made, and that the denial caused him considerable suffering, which accelerated the progress of his disease. Although he requires a cane to walk, the prison refused to provide one for his daily exercise. Although he said he experienced pain when his hands were cuffed behind his back, his guards continued to do so, refusing to cuff his hands in front of his body instead. Although he was unable to stand while taking a shower, and although he says a chair was ordered for him (he does not specify by whom), his guards refused to provide one, which repeatedly caused him to fall. Although he was unable to stand for extended periods, he was required, like other inmates, to wait in long lines for food. Although he was unable to climb stairs, he was placed in a cell on the "third tier," which we take to mean the third floor, of the prison. Although he was unable to use a standard toilet, the Department failed to provide an accessible one, forcing him to rely on his cellmates for assistance with personal hygiene. Kiman further says that the Department negligently delayed giving him medical attention, and that because of the delay he was diagnosed later than he should have been; and that his guards at times both negligently and maliciously withheld his prescription medications.

B. History

In April 1999, Kiman filed a charge against the Department of Corrections with the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission. By then, he had been released. The Commission informed him in May 1999 that it lacked jurisdiction over Title II of the ADA, and referred him to the federal Department of Justice. Kiman's counsel then engaged in a lengthy correspondence with that Department's Civil Rights Division that lasted from May 1999 to October 2000, during which time the Division took no action. Finally, Kiman resorted to federal court.

On April 16, 2001, Kiman filed suit in the District of New Hampshire. He named as defendants the Department of Corrections and thirteen of its officers and employees, each in his or her official and individual capacities. He alleged violations of Title II of the ADA and several state law claims, and sought compensatory and punitive damages.

The defendants moved to dismiss, arguing, first, that Kiman had stated no claim under Title II because Congress exceeded its power under section five of the Fourteenth Amendment when it purported to abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity in Title II of the ADA; second, that Title II does not provide a cause of action against state officers in their individual capacities (and that in any event Kiman had failed to state a claim against the official defendants in their individual capacities); and third, that their first two arguments eliminated all of Kiman's federal causes of action, and that the court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Kiman's claims. Kiman responded primarily by defending Congress's exercise of its section five power through the ADA.

On December 19, the district court issued a three-page order granting the defendants' motion to dismiss. Kiman, 2001 WL 1636431. It noted the Supreme Court's recent holding in Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 121 S.Ct. 955, 148 L.Ed.2d 866, that Congress failed to abrogate the states' immunity in Title I of the ADA. Kiman, 2001 WL 1636431, at *1. It then said that it would follow Reickenbacker v. Foster, 274 F.3d 974 (5th Cir.2001); Garcia v. S.U.N.Y. Health Sciences Center, 280 F.3d 98 (2d Cir.2001); and Thompson v. Colorado, 258 F.3d 1241 (10th Cir.), amended by 278 F.3d 1020 (10th Cir.2001), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 122 S.Ct. 1960, 152 L.Ed.2d 1021 (2002), in concluding that Congress failed to abrogate the states' immunity in Title II of the statute. Kiman, 2001 WL 1636431, at *1. The court acknowledged the Second Circuit's holding in Garcia that the ADA's abrogation of immunity in Title II is effective as applied to cases in which a private plaintiff alleges discrimination based solely on ill will or animus. Id. at *1 n. 1 (citing Garcia, 280 F.3d at 111). The court said, however, that Kiman "does not allege that he was the victim of intentional discrimination," and so it would not reach the question of whether the Second Circuit's analysis was correct. Id. The court did not address the defendants' arguments regarding the official defendants in their individual capacities,1 but did decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Kiman's state law claims. In any event, it dismissed the entire case. Id. at *1.

On appeal, Kiman challenges the district court's Eleventh Amendment ruling. He renews his argument that Title II of the ADA was a valid exercise of Congress's power under section five of the Fourteenth Amendment. The United States has intervened to defend the constitutionality of the statute, and has filed a brief discussing the evidence on which Congress relied to make the legislative findings that support Title II. The Department of Corrections asks us to affirm the district court's order, arguing in essence that Garrett dictates the outcome in this case.

II.

We review the judgment of a district court granting a motion to dismiss on the basis of a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity de novo. Mills v. Maine, 118 F.3d 37, 41 (1st Cir.1997).

A. Background

This case arises in the rapidly changing landscape of the Supreme Court's recent jurisprudence regarding the states' immunity from suit by private parties under federal law.2 The changes began in 1996, when the Supreme Court in Seminole Tribe v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996), overruled its prior case of Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 491 U.S. 1, 109 S.Ct. 2273, 105 L.Ed.2d 1 (1989), and held that Congress may not subject states to private suits by means of legislation enacted under its Article I powers. The Court erased any doubt that the rule of Seminole Tribe extended beyond the congressional power over commerce in Florida Prepaid...

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2 books & journal articles
  • Kiman v. New Hampshire Dept. of Corrections.
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